Did you know that certain sneakers are better for certain workouts? And that some types of sneakers are terrible in certain workout classes?
Wearing the right sneakers during your workout is important because:
1. Safety. Wearing the wrong shoes can be dangerous may increase your chances of sustaining an injury.
2. Performance. Shoes made for the type of workout you're doing will help your performance. Who doesn't want to be a little faster, lift a little heavier, or move with greater agility?
Selecting sneakers can be confusing, so here's a quick run down of what to look for in certain types of shoes depending on your workout.
HIIT CLASSES, BOOTCAMP CLASSES, INTERVAL TRAINING
In these classes where it's all about getting your heart rate up, speed and agility are everything. Classes are typically designed around intevals of high intensity cardio and low intensity intervals combining excerises like: squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, running sprints, agility drills, etc.
The last thing you want is a clunky, heavy sneaker holding you back.
The best shoes for these classes are lightweight cross-trainers with lateral support. Your shoes should be lightweight enough that you don't feel like you have concrete blocks strapped to your feet during the running and jumping segments, yet you have the lateral support needed for agility drills (quick side to side movements, stop and go, etc.).
NOTE: I also love Nike Free Running shoes for interval and bootcamp classes. They are lightweight, minimal, and offer just enough support.
Some of my favorite shoes for these classes are:
The best Crossfit shoes combine the needs of HIIT workout shoes (lightweight, minimalistic, lateral support) yet also provide stability for barbell work.
Sneakers with a minimal drop from ankle to toe and minimal cushioning are best (this means flat bottomed sneakers). Running shoes with thick, cushy soles are probably the worst sneakers you could wear to Crossfit. The thick, cushy bottoms provide no stability for barbell work and will also roll you to your toes, which is the opposite of where you want to be for most Crossfit movements.
Also, look for a style that has no ankle support (don't wear high tops), ankle support isn't necessary and hinders movements like squats.
When it comes to Crossfit shoes, I believe the experts (Nike and Reebok) know best:
Weightlifting (Olympic Lifting) shoes are the best style shoe for most barbell movements: Squats, Cleans, Snatches, Overhead Squats, etc. (Side note: Deadlifts you want to wear flat sneakers or go barefoot)
Weightlifting shoes have a small wedge heel, and a completely flat bottom, that provides better balance and stability. The wedged heel also provides a huge advantage by increasing ankle range mobility and allowing you to squat deeper in an upright position.
Sneakers with cushy bottoms ( like running shoes) absorb force, so when you wear running sneakers while weightlifting, you are hindering your maximum strength. Weightlifting shoes have a flat bottom with no cushioning. This allows you to use all of the force generated when driving your feet into the ground, towards your lift. (You will be able to lift more weight wearing weightlifting shoes!)
Before you invest in these shoes, talk to someone that can help you select the right pair given your current mobility.
For example, I have a great squat range of motion and ankle mobility, so weightlifting shoes with a minimal raised heel work great. If your mobility or range of motion is limited, a higher raise in the heel may be helpful to you.
So. Many. Running. Shoes.
This could be an entire separate article. Or even a multiple article series.
There are so many different kinds of running shoes on the market for different types of feet (high arches, flat feet, overpronated, etc) and shoes for different types of running (treadmill work, trail running, 5Ks, distance running, etc). Which running shoe is the best?
The running shoe that is best for you is the running shoe that is comfortable and feels balanced.
Too much support or too little support will make your lower legs work harder, which will make the shoes feel less comfortable.
Arch support? Careful on this one. When running, our arches should literally put a spring in our step. It's their job to manage force. Too much arch support won't allow your arches to do their job.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF RUNNING MAY REQUIRE DIFFERENT SHOES
If you're going to be doing mostly treadmill work: You can get away with a lighter running shoe since the treadmill is a softer surface than the concrete, in which you may prefer more absorption.
If you're going to be running 10Ks or less: Personally, I prefer a super light shoe with a barefoot feel, too much cushioning is uncomfortable for me. My favorite running shoes are Nike Free 4.0. The Nike Free 4.0's have a flexible bottom that allow for a minimalistic, barefoot feel while still providing enough support for my foot.
If you're a distance runner: Definitely check out a specialty running shoe store, instead of your basic sneaker. These stores offer TONS and TONS of options so you can find the exact pair of running shoes best for you. Another perk is that their store associates are typically very knowledgeable in running shoes and can talk to you about the benefits of specific pairs more in depth than at a general sneaker store.
They can also offer insight about the most popular running sneakers their customers buy. Specialty running stores also typically have a running club and if you're still undecided, you can ask members for feedback on their favorite shoes too.
BAREFOOT RUNNING SHOES VS. THICK SOLED RUNNING SHOES
Minimalistic running shoes are very popular right now. Nike has an entire line, Nike Free Run, that covers just about every type of barefoot running feeling. Now I'm not a running expert, but if you're curious as to why you would want to move to a more minimalistic, barefoot shoe, check out this article.
My favorite running shoes (treadmill work and up to 10K distances):